Board delays action on sanitary district

FRONT ROYAL – Supporters and opponents of a Warren County sanitary district made their cases to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night.

The board ultimately decided to postpone action on a request to join a petition of Lake Front Royal residents to ask a circuit court judge to abolish the sanitary district recently created for the neighborhood. The board heard from nearly 30 residents, for and against the special taxation district, over the course of about two hours.

After the hearing, the board voted 5-0 to postpone action until the board’s Aug. 16 meeting to allow county staff time to survey property owners about the sanitary district.

County Administrator Doug Stanley gave a presentation about sanitary districts that included pros and cons as well as data on tax-collection rates and spending.

Supporters of the sanitary district said they wanted more transparency in how their dues were collected and spent. Supporters also claimed that a sanitary district, with county oversight, would see a better collection rate and could more quickly raise the funds to make necessary repairs to the roads and the bridge at the subdivision’s entrance.

Opponents of the district asked the board to join the petition, arguing that while proponents of the district followed the letter of the law, they did so in an “underhanded” way. Some speakers seeking to abolish the district claimed that the property owners association board of directors was not as dysfunctional as supporters of the district asserted.

Some supporters of the sanitary district claimed that information about the petition to seek the court’s approval of the district was disseminated around the neighborhood. Opponents said information was strategically passed along to supporters of the district’s creation.

After the hearing, Vice Chairman Archie Fox made a motion to postpone action on the request. Fox said he wanted more time to look into the matter.

Happy Creek District Supervisor Tony Carter concurred with Fox.

“I think there’s a lot of information,” Carter said. “Personally I’d like to get this resolved.”

Chairwoman Linda Glavis, whose South River District includes the Lake Front Royal subdivision, said postponing action, perhaps taking a survey of residents, could help the board as it considers the request.

Carter recalled that the county conducted a similar survey for Shenandoah Farms. Carter noted that only about 17 percent responded to those surveys.

Shenandoah District Supervisor Tom Sayre pointed out that, as one speaker explained, the vague term “qualified voters” means that a renter could bind a property owner, who doesn’t live in the subdivision, to the sanitary district.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com